Farm Stands open for the season on the Old Mission Peninsula; Old Mission Flowers, Warren Orchards, Local Yokels | Jane Boursaw Photo
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It’s that blessed time of year when Old Mission Peninsula farm stands start to open up for the growing season. You’ll find asparagus, jams and other goodies at Warren Orchards’ farm stand, gorgeous blooms at Old Mission Flowers, and there are already fresh strawberries at Local Yokels.

Plenty more farm stands will open as the season goes on, many of them carrying a variety of cherries, apples and later produce. For now, here are three OMP farm stands that have opened for the season…

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Local Yokels

It’s been a joy to watch Local Yokels’ farm stand blossom from a small stand on Center Road near the Peninsula Township Hall to a thriving stand of flowers, herbs, greens, veggies and fruits at the corner of Center Road and Gray Road. And all in a relatively short time.

In their early days of farming, owners Jen and Ben Bramer worked with my brother, Dean Johnson of Johnson Farms, who helped them get started with growing produce to sell. It wasn’t until 2015 that they purchased their own land and began tilling the soil and growing plants.

Now they have several greenhouses and start nearly all of their plants from scratch. This allows them to select varieties with the best flavors, use sustainable and organic methods as much as possible, improve soil health and farming practices, and have full control over the growing conditions.

If we wouldn’t want to eat it ourselves, we won’t sell it,” says Jen.

She adds that the name “Local Yokels” continues to accurately describe them. “We are lucky to be able to live and work on this dynamic Peninsula, which has a pretty unique mix of farmers and also newer residents that are attracted to the beauty and offerings that the Peninsula provides. Some of the best farmers we know live and work here with us, and I am always very proud to have them stop at our stand and buy our produce.”

For more info and to stay up-to-date on what’s fresh at the stand, visit their website, Facebook and Instagram pages. Below are a few photos of their Gray Road stand, with Rebecca Ligon Couch watering some of the flowers. Her farm family, the Tompkins, goes back generations on the Peninsula.

Rebecca Ligon Couch waters flowers at Local Yokels Farm Stand on the corner of Gray Road and Center Road on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Rebecca Ligon Couch waters flowers at Local Yokels Farm Stand on the corner of Gray Road and Center Road on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

Warren Orchards – Between the Bays

The Warrens have been farming on the Old Mission Peninsula for nearly 150 years. When the farm was created in 1867, it started as 60 acres and has grown to 90. Back then, the homestead was used as a half-way house — wagons would stop there to water their horses before they went up Kelly Hill on Center Road. The Warrens also had a small store where they sold a few items such as fruit, vegetables and tobacco.

In fact, Warren Orchards was actually one of the first orchards on the Peninsula. The first owners, John and Rebecca Warren, passed the farm down to their son, Frank, and his wife, Esther. Their son, Keith, and his bride, Jean, raised their four children there, while taking over the farm operation.

In 1975, a second farm was purchased, and Keith and Jean’s son, Gary, took over the day-to-day running of both farm locations. My husband Tim’s dad, Tug Boursaw, helped out by driving truck during the summer growing season.

Gary and his wife, Wendy, brought in their son, Jeremiah, in 2009, at which time they added “Between the Bays” to their business name, to market their fresh fruit. Sadly, Gary passed in 2014 after suffering with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s disease. Wendy is now very involved in the local Alzheimer’s Association, including participating in the annual “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.”

Wendy and Jeremiah continue to honor Gary’s memory by offering fresh, high quality produce, growing cherries, apples, saskatoons, peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots, and mixing in other local fruits and veggies to round out the inventory. Local honey, maple syrup, jams and baked goods are also available. (If you haven’t had one of Wendy’s Lemon Meringue pies, make that happen soon.)

Here’s Wendy with her daughter, J.J., as they opened up the stand for the year. This stand is located at 8169 Center Road, across from Fire Station 2. They also have a stand at their farm at 2705 Island View Road.

Wendy Warren open the farm stand at Warren Orchards - Between the Bays; Center Road across from Fire Station 2 | Jane Boursaw Photo
Wendy Warren opens the farm stand at Warren Orchards – Between the Bays; Center Road across from Fire Station 2 | Jane Boursaw Photo

Old Mission Flowers

“Peony” is the flower of the day at Ginny Coulter’s Old Mission Flowers, located at the corner of Center Road and Ladd Road. Right now is a great time to stop by and pick a bouquet of those beautiful peonies, available in a variety of out-of-this-world colors.

When I stopped by to grab a few photos the other day, she sent me home with a gorgeous bouquet of coral peonies, accented with white iris – also available in the garden in assorted lush colors.

Ginny is part of the Dohm family – her parents were Fred and Reba Dohm (check out Reba’s apple crunch recipe here), and her long-lived grandmother was Rosa Dohm. If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you might remember that at the age of 100 in 1974, she was the Grand Marshal of the Cherry Royale Parade.

“I’m from Old Mission Peninsula pioneer stock (1855), and grew up on the farm across the road,” says Ginny. “Flowers have always been my passion, but I was too bullheaded to study floriculture, so I ended up with a degree in Horticulture Science from Michigan State University (Go Green!). While at MSU in the 70s, I was fortunate to have student jobs in the Old Botany Greenhouses and the renowned W. J. Beal Botanical Gardens.

“I left a government desk job that had lost its charm, and started chasing my flower dream in 2015. By that July, I thought I had enough flowers to start selling, so I put up a sign and set up a market tent near the end of our driveway. Three weeks later I was starting to have some customers, and then calamity hit on August 2nd. It totaled my tent and squelched my spirits; most of the flowers were flattened or riddled by hail. To my amazement, in a couple weeks, there were a few survivors that filled some vases.”

As luck would have it, I ran into Ginny at the Farmer’s Market at the Grand Traverse Commons in 2015. The same year she started Old Mission Flowers, I started Old Mission Gazette. Just two Peninsula kids chasing a dream. Ginny was in my sister Carol’s class in school, and her younger sister Barb (Wunsch) and I were friends (still are!). So Carol and I spent a lot of time at the Dohm house.

Ginny says that every growing year is different, and that her garden is dynamic and ever-changing as the growing season progresses through the summer. “I try to have great diversity in the garden, so that if one plant doesn’t do well with the weather that comes, another kind will.”

Throughout the season, you’ll find a variety of flowers, including narcissus, tulips, peonies, lilies, roses, gladiolus, phlox, dahlias, and many other perennials. Zinnias, snapdragons, china asters, celosias, ageratums and several varieties of sunflowers are planted every year to provide vibrant and bountiful annual blooms.

“I have a pretty simple business plan,” she says. “Grow amazing flowers and invite customers to come pick them. I hope you’ll visit!”

The garden is open daily, dawn to dusk, from May through September/October. How it works:

  • The business operates on the honor system. Guests pick flowers and put money or a check in a pay pipe (in front of the garden shed) or use Venmo (Old Mission Flowers) or PayPal (paypal.me/oldmissionflowers).
  • There are vases, jars, paper cups and pails that are priced for filling for mixed bouquets. For instance, you may fill a quart jar with a mixed bouquet using flowers you choose for $20.
  • Flowers may also be purchased by the stem.
  • If you are using the garden for photography or other art, please leave a donation. Professionals should plan to leave $50. Sharing your pictures on social media and tagging “Old Mission Flowers” is very much appreciated.

For more info, visit Old Mission Flowers’ website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Ginny Dohm, owner of Old Mission Flowers on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Ginny Dohm, owner of Old Mission Flowers on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

Also Read…

SUPPORT YOUR INDEPENDENT LOCAL NEWSPAPER: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever. Thank you so much for your support! -Jane Boursaw, Editor/Publisher, Old Mission Gazette

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